New amendments to the Kansas Wage Payment Act (“KWPA”) expand employers’ rights to withhold employee wages. In addition to traditional and customary reasons to withhold wages (e.g., taxes, retirement contributions, and health insurance), the old KWPA generally allowed deductions if (a) the employee authorized the deduction in writing, and (b) the deduction was for a lawful purpose accruing to the benefit of the employee.
The 2013 amendments to the KWPA add new grounds for employers to legally deduct from employee wages. Per the Kansas legislature:
An employer may withhold, contingent upon a signed written agreement between the employer and the employee, a portion of an employee’s wages for the following purposes:
- Repayment of a loan or an advance the employer made to the employee during the course and scope of employment;
- Recovery of overpayment; and
- Replacement cost or the unpaid balance of the employer’s merchandise or uniforms purchased by the employee.
When a person leaves employment, the bill gives the employer the discretion, contingent upon written notice and explanation to the employee, to deduct any portion of the employee’s final wages for the following purposes:
- Recovery of the employer’s property provided to the employee in the course of the employer’s business until the property is returned to the employer. Upon return of the employer’s property, the withheld wages are to be paid to the employee;
- Repayment of a loan or advance the employer made to the employee during the course of and within the scope of employment;
- Recovery of payroll overpayment; or
- Replacement cost of the employer’s merchandise, uniforms, or equipment purchased by the employee.
However, the amendments recognize that deductions otherwise allowed under the Wage Payment Act may nevertheless result in a violation of federal law. For example, wage deductions causing the employee’s effective rate of pay to dip below minimum wage would violate the Fair Labor Standards Act.